Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Apple Tart, or Thanksgiving Preparation

Oh, I haven't written anything in a while. I feel like I am learning to cooke all from scratch here in Turkey. My oven doesn't bake the way I used to ovens, the ingredients don't taste the same, the measurements for local recipes call for tea cups, coffee cups instead of our usual measuring cups and pyrex cup. And my Kitchen Aid mixer was not with me ( and you know it's my best friend)

So, here I am adjusting to the new way around my turkish kitchen, and begging my husband to find me Kitchen Aid mixer, and here my wish comes true. During the recent holiday here in Istanbul, the price for my "Diamond" was reduced by %50. I ran to the store, and purchased the present of the year for myself. I couldn't wait to beat up a batch of my favorite chocolate chip cookies, or chocolate cake. I baked, baked , and baked. Until I realized that I wasn't so comfortable in my pair of jeans. I had an emergency, and last week on Thursday started a Dukan diet. Now, I am cooking for family, and for myself separately, and not so much of baking will be happening in my kitchen for some time until the holidays. I lost so far about 5 Lbs, and happy how the diet is simple and makes me feel. I will try to share some recipes with you from my diet plan, if you'd like.

The thought of having a Thanksgiving Dinner at my home, made me think of all the delicious things, that I can cook. I decided to try to bake some of my Thanksgiving recipes in my new oven ,and using local ingredients. Today I baked an Apple Galette, which I really liked. The original recipe was found on, however I baked it with some slight changes.

Oh, how much I struggled not to swallow the slice of galette ( I am on protein diet).The crust is nice and crumbly, the apples are delicious and sweet, and if you place and vanilla ice cream on top, you will be on heaven.

adapted from Epicurious, originally from Chez Panisse.

1 3/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 sticks (165 gr) cold butter
3-4 Tablespoons of ice water

1 1/2 lb Granny Smith apples
4 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon lemon peel
1/2 lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup of apricot preserves
whole milk or egg wash

You can use processor to make dough or fork/pastry knife. Mix flour+salt+sugar, add cubes of butter, and work it until it looks like crumbs.
Add water, and put the dough into one piece, make a disk,wrap it in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Peel your apples, clean and core. I didn't have the core cutting tool, I simple quartered an apple, and gently cut out the seeds.

Slice the apples, and mix them with cinnamon, 2 Tablespoons of sugar, lemon peel, and lemon juice.
Preheat oven to 450 F.
Roll out the dough in between two sheets of parchment paper into 14 inches circle. Chill in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

Take off the top parchment paper, and place your circle on the baking sheet. Spread the preserves over the top, leaving 1 1/2 inches for border. I didn't have apricot jam, and used homemade figs preserves-loved it.

Arrange Apple slices on top. Fold the borders. Sprinkle the rest of the sugar and walnuts on top.

Brush the borders with milk or egg wash. Bake for 20 minutes (I baked 15 Minutes), reduce to 375F, and continue baking until crust is pretty golden color about 30 minutes.
Best served warm with an ice cream on top. I am planning to warm it up in he oven after the dinner, and serve it with delicious walnut ice cream.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Making home at new home

It's funny, how I am trying so hard to make our new home look like our old one. Things, that make us feel comfortable , and are familiar to us are gathered from store to store. And of, course, food is a big part of it. Whenever I see a similar ingredient in the supermarket, I am grabbing all the boxes from the shelf in fear that I won't find it some other time.Cooking home-comfort food for me was a natural call, that I followed, and cooked our favorite dishes all week long. Uzbek plov, Borscht, Pelmeni, fried potatoes with mushrooms(russian style),chicken noodle soup, and of course a piece of simple cake. I shared the recipe of Uzbek plov before in my blog.
Sometimes, if I want to make a quick version of it, I use chicken meat instead of lamb, and it becomes super-quick and delicious meal.
The basics are the same, please, let me know, if you want step-by-step recipe for Plov with chicken.
Today, I want to share a recipe for Borscht soup. It's a "landmark dish" in Russia, and Ukraine. Everyone makes borscht their only right way, and everyone knows, that their mother's Borscht is the only best version of it, that have a right to live. I am very flexible about cooking, and accept their versions, but still , my grandmother's borscht was the best, I had ever tried. After consulting with my mom (live Skype conversation, she followed every step of the process), I am ready to put this for public view.


Soup Pot-5 liters.
One Frying pan.
Box Grater
Knife and cutting board.

Beef Bones with some meat on it.Mom's preference is veal.-500-700 gr. (For Stock)
Beets-1 medium/or 2 small
Yellow onion-1 medium
Carrots-2 medium
Sweet red pepper- 1
Tomato paste -1 Tablespoon
Ready tomato sauce 4 Tablespoons/or 1-2 fresh tomatoes grated
Parsley or celery stalks for meat stock.

1.Make a basic meat stock. Wash your meat, and bones, add cold water, after it gets to the boiling point, skim the foam, add salt. You can tie together parsley, and few pieces of red pepper, and add it to your stock at this point.
2.Peel, and wash the beets. Add whole beets into the stock.It will be easier for you to work with them later after they will get little softer.
3.Chop your onions, cut 1 carrot into small cubes,1 carrot grated, cut potatoes in cubes. Slice the cabbage. My cabbage was medium size, and I used a quarter of it.Grate the tomatoes, if you use fresh ones.
4. The stock cooks about 40 minutes. Depends on your meat. After 30 minutes of cooking time, pull out beets, and cool them down under the cold water.
5. Grate the beets. Heat oil on the frying pan, and add onions. After onions turn golden color, add beets, and grated carrot. Cook for 2 minutes. Add tomato paste, stir, and add tomato sauce/or fresh grated tomatoes.Cook 5 minutes. Add 1 ladle of your meat stock to it. Cook until beets are soft-about 10 minutes.
6.Add potatoes to your stock. If your cabbage is hard, add it to stock before the beets mixtures.If it's not, add it after the beets mixture. You have about 10 minutes to decide that, before your potatoes are getting ready. Cabbage cooks about the same time.
7. Turn off the heat.Cover it with the lid, and let it stay for 30 minutes. It has to absorb all the juices.
8. For the serving, I make bread croutons, or toasted Garlic bread . Add a teaspoon of sour cream to you plate with Borscht. Borscht is always more delicious the next day.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Alacati, Cesme, Urla.

I must say thank you to our wonderful friends-Guniz & Deniz. Deniz's mom opened the doors of her beautiful home for us, where we enjoyed fantastic weather, great food, and best company ever. We stayed at Urla, which is conveniently located next to more crowded and popular Cesme, and Alacati cities. We did couple day trips to Efesus, Cesme beaches, and enjoyed our evenings by browsing streets of Alacati. Absolutely the best breakfast, I ever had. (Urla)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Marmaris, Datca, Knidos.

Moving to Turkey.

Summer 2012 brought a lot of surprises into our life. We sold our cafe, and moved to Istanbul, Turkey. This is a brand new beginning for my family. I hope you will enjoy new turkish-inspired culinary adventures, and my very hard to adjust to new ingredients experience. I will try to cook my family's favorite dishes with new turkish equivalent ingredients, and share my new finds with you. We started our new life with very exciting chapter-Vacation. We moved from city to city in our car, and stayed in different places couple nights, which gave us some time to rest, and some time to enjoy. Stop #1-Lagoon between Adrasan and Olympos-Antalya.
Zero comfort, fantastic pebble beach, the best sea in the world, and you eat whatever you catch, or kill. The owner of this little paradise killed a wild goat, and cooked it for a dinner. The meat was cooked without any spices added to it, and yet, it had an amazing the strong oregano sense in every bite. It was amazing!
Catch of the day

Monday, February 13, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day-or early love letter to my husband.

 Not a big fan of this holiday. Before we got married with my husband, we had decided not to celebrate 14th of February, instead, surprise each other occasionally, and cherish the love between us everyday of our life. I am posting this on 13th, not to ruin the traditions :)

  "I am 12 years old, and asking my mom,
- Mom, how in the world, you would know, which guy to get married with. There are so many to pick from. I am really afraid to make a wrong choice.
 Mom with a smile
  - You will definitely know if He is the Right one."

Now, I know, that my mom was %1000 right, and the second I saw him, I knew he was THE ONE. I love you , and love you, and love you endlessly, like an ocean. You are an amazing soulmate, that understands me, supports me, holds me, lifts me up, listens, and loves. I am grateful to have you entering my life, and sharing every moment of it. I Love you, and thank you for loving me back.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Almonds, Sunflower Seeds-salted snack.

 I love crunchy seeds, nuts in granola, salads, or simply by itself. I purchase raw, unsalted sunflower seeds, or almonds (slivered/or whole), and turn them into perfection in my kitchen.

  This recipe is pretty basic.
  You will need a cup of almonds, or sunflower seeds, water, and kosher salt.
   I use small saucepan, fill it with water, boil it, add 1/2 Tablespoon of kosher salt. The water has to be pretty Ocean salty. When the water reaches boiling status, add your nuts and seeds. Let them simmer in the salted water for 5 minutes.
   Drain the nuts, and spread them on the baking pan. Toast in the oven at 350F for 5-10 minutes. The nuts should be nice, dry, and toasted. For smaller amount of nuts, use the frying pan, and toast them on top of the stove.
 For more interesting taste, you can add some olive oil, red/or black pepper before the toasting in the oven.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Strawberry Balsamic Dressing.Roasted Beet Salad.

 I am surrounded by cupcakes, cookies, crepes, ice cream, and cakes. It's so hard to resist to try everything we make in Pushkin, and stay in good shape, that's why, couple days a week, I eat light and no-calories meals. I love salads, and there are so many creative ways of making delicious salad from basic ingredients that you can pick up, mix up, and eat up without feeling guilty.


  You can guess, that we use a lot of strawberries in our cafe, since one of he most popular crepe in our menu is... -That's right, "Nutella and Slice Fresh Strawberries" crepe.
 I pick through the strawberries, and pick only the best, that go into the customer's meal. Some strawberries are just not perfect enough, and not so bad to throw them away. That's why I make strawberry sauces, and strawberry dressings. You can do the same thing at home- pick through the pint the not -so- beautiful berries, and make something delicious.

   -About 10 ripe strawberries
   - Juice of half of a Lemon
   -pinch of salt
   -pinch of black pepper
   - Balsamic Vinegar 1 Tbsp
    -Honey 2 Tbsp  (or more, if you like it little bit sweeter)
    -Olive oil - If you are on a diet, 2 Tbsp will be perfect.If not, then add exact same amount as, the strawberry puree. 1/2 olive oil+1/2 strawberry puree.
  Use medium saucepan. You can puree strawberries in blender. I sliced, and pureed them with hand stick blender. Add pinch of kosher salt, and black pepper, juice of a lemon. Set the heat on medium, and boil sauce for 5 minutes. You will see, that sauce will thicken, and reduce in amount. Turn off the heat, add balsamic vinegar, and let it cool. Add honey, taste the sauce, and add more salt, or pepper, or honey. I liked to leave it sometimes at this stage. But you can definitely add some olive oil, and whisk throughly. You will have a thick emulsion.


If you think, that you don't like beets, it means you never tried roasted/baked young beets. Purchase young, small beets from your supermarket, or farm stand, and you will enjoy the health benefits of this fantastic root vegetable. You can use fresh beet in your power fresh juices, and make some delicious Russian-inspired salads. But today, let's stay on the safe side, and make something, that's  more familiar to everyone. 
  To bake beets, you will need to wrap them in foil, and bake at 425F for one hour in your oven. My professional oven is super monster, and I had them ready in one hour at 350F.  Time will vary, if the beets are bigger in size.
 Let them cool. Wrap them, and refrigerate, until you ready to use them. I usually bake couple at a time, and use them during the week, whenever I feel like having a salad.

  Mix some greens (arugula, spring mix, green spinach), slice your beets. Add some toasted pecans, crumble some goat cheese (or feta), and Strawberry Dressing. Voila!!! 


Monday, January 9, 2012

New York surprises us with warm weather

 Weekend's weather was fantastic, everyone for a moment forgot about winter, and enjoyed outdoors. We haven't had the snow yet, and winter blizzards. There is something strange about it, but I like it!
Here is a little piece of Staten Island, which I really like. 

Rough and Inverse Puff Pastry.

I picked basic recipes for Rough/or quick puff pastry and Classic Inverse Puff Pastry. The results are Rough pastry will be forgotten by me and never used again. I found it to be too rough for my taste. Inverse puff , however made me think of myself, as of magician! The raise, the qualities, the layers of buttery delicious pastry made me feel happy, and satisfied. I will simplify the recipe for inverse puff pastry and post it as soon as... I promise.

Quick pastry baked

 Apple turnover with rough pastry

Apple turnover with Inverse puff pastry

Layers of pastry with buttercream made into Napoleon.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Goat Cheese Mushroom Pie.

 When we decided to open Pushkin, the main goal was to surprise and satisfy any customer. Our crepes are very different and unusual in some way. I love all of our crepes, but one of the most favorites one is "Goat Cheese+Sauteed Mushrooms+Caramelized onion Crepe."For Home Thanksgiving meal, I really wanted to make a pie with the same ingredients. I used my mother's favorite short crust pastry (pate brisee). Prepared the ingredients one day ahead at work, and assembled the pie before baking.
    Pate Brisee /Mom's short crust pastry
1 1/4 cup Flour
1/4 tsalt
1/2 cup of cold butter
I use pastry knife to "chop" the butter into the flour. You will have to have crumbs of butter covered with flour. 
Add 1/4 cup of sour cream
2 t of fresh lemon juice or 1 t of vinegar
1/4 cup or less of cold water

I use the scraper to mix in the wet ingredients with flour. Don't add all the water at once, start with half, mix it in, and see if more is necessary. inish kneading with hands, do not over knead. Simply, try to put all the crumbs into one big ball of dough. Make a disc , and wrap it in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Note: I made the dough, and prepared the ingredients for the filing a day before. I left everything in the refrigerator overnight,

1 1/2 pound of white mushroom /sliced/
1 big onion sliced and caramelized
Goat cheese is up to you and your taste.

Slice mushroom and saute in the pan until cooked. Caramelize onions (in separate pan). Mix Mushrooms+Onions, add salt and pepper.
Preheat oven to 400 F.
I used Pyrex Pie Pan, roll out the dough into circle about 26". Fill  it with mushroom + onions mix, crumbled the goat cheese on top, and baked for about 45 minutes.
After first 15 minutes of baking, lower the temperature to 350 F.
The pastry should get nice brownish/golden color.

Friday, January 6, 2012

New Year's Cake -2012!!!

   I am baking my special cake every year. This year, I had to double the size. The cake is so delicious. Layers of walnut sponge cake, meringue layer, and espresso caramel buttercream, with milk chocolate ganache and roasted walnuts. This cake is all my favorite ingredients together!!! The recipe is complicated, but I will try to put it together in nearest future. Since 2012 is Fire Dragon Year by Chinese year, the decoration is inspired by that fact.